This morning, a local TV station posted on their Facebook page that Governor Christie had signed legislation to ban tanning in New Jersey for those under 17. The station asked, “Do you think more states should follow or leave it up to parents?” As usual, there were supporters for both sides of the argument. But since I’m a data geek, I had to analyze a little more deeply. Here’s what I found:
· 38% of the comments were in favor of such bans. Most of these respondents had been somehow touched by melanoma.
· 21% responded that such a ban would violate parental rights.
· 17% stated that the government was already too involved with our personal lives.
· 4% stated that there were more pressing issues to address than a tanning ban.
· The remaining had other random answers.
Obviously, I was one of the 38% that responded in favor of such a ban. While I’m usually pretty open-minded in most debates, I’m not sure I can understand the opposing arguments.
The government is “involved” when it comes to many age limits. Are those opposed to banning the tan for minors also open to allowing minors to drink and smoke without restrictions? Would they allow children to drive on the highways? Are they ready for Sponge Bob to be the next president once we allow kids to vote? Will we expect to find pornography in our children’s back pack along with Diary of a Wimpy Kid? There are restrictions on such issues for valid reasons and not simply so government can rule with an iron fist.
I can understand (somewhat) the argument for parental rights. I’m a parent of two incredible kids and I believe I have the right to provide parental guidance as I see fit. At the same time, I have already taught them the issues with tanning beds. They know that not only would daddy be very disappointed if they choose to tan, they know it’s unhealthy and basically a stupid practice. I have taught them as an informed parent. The problem is, where tanning beds and skin cancer/melanoma are concerned, many if not most parents are simply uninformed. They don’t understand that a single visit to a tanning bed can increase the chance of cancer. They don’t know that melanoma rates in young women are sky-rocketing. They haven’t become friends with a young woman who died from this horrid disease.
Right now, at age 10, my kids know that tanning is bad. When they turn 14 or 15, I’m sure they’ll not agree with all I have to teach. They may become rebellious. They may be tempted to tan. And two teens can most likely find many loopholes right underneath the nose of the best parent. That’s why I believe even supposedly good parents like me need such a law to ban tanning for minors.
Your parental rights won’t be denied at all. You still have a job to do. Issuing government dictated bans is one thing, but educating our young on WHY such a ban is needed is equally important. We parents need to be informed so as to teach our kids. When they whine about wanting a darker glow, we need to help them understand why it’s an unhealthy choice. We need to teach them about safety in the sun as well and make them understand the importance of wearing sunscreen and hats. Trust me, even with a tanning bed ban; you’ll have plenty parenting to do.